Fifth-ranked Morningside advanced to Friday’s second round of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship with an 87-69 victory against unranked Trinity International in Thursday’s opening round action at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Mustangs will take a 27-6 record into a matchup against No. 12 Warner Pacific (24-9) in a game slated for a 5:45 p.m. Friday start. Morningside, this season’s Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) regular season and post-season tournament champion, has won 10 of its last 11 games and is riding a season’s high eight-game winning streak.
Trinity International, which finished third in the 14-team Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, finished the season at 21-11.
Freshmen Zach Imig and Trey Brown, who as prep teammates led Gretna High School to back-to-back Nebraska Class B state championships, led the Mustangs with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Imig also dealt a game-high six assists, while Brown provided his team-high 13th double figure scoring performance off the bench this season. Brown drilled eight of nine field goal attempts to give him 53 hoops in 76 attempts for a sizzling 69.7 percent over the last 12 games.
Brown did most of his scoring in the first half when he led the Mustangs with 12 points at the break when starting center Tyler Borchers, a first-team All-GPAC performer, played less than three minutes after he picked up two quick fouls.
Borchers was unstoppable in the second half when he scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds to finish with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for his team-high 10th double double of the season.
Matthew Hahn and Ben Hoskins just missed double figures with nine points, each, followed by Alex Borchers with eight and Brody Egger with six.
Tyler Borchers’ 11 rebounds helped the Mustangs dominate the boards by a 52-29 advantage.
The Mustangs overcame a sluggish start against Trinity International before kicking things into high gear.
Morningside trailed for most of the first half and found itself down by as many as seven points on two occasions before it assumed control during the final five minutes. The Mustangs closed out the first half with a 16-3 scoring run over the final 5:25 of the half to take a 45-36 lead into the intermission.
Mustangs went ahead 34-33 when Hoskins drilled a 3-pointer from the baseline to take the lead for the first time since they held a 6-5 advantage in the opening three minutes. The Mustangs pushed their lead to nine points, 43-34, on a layup by Brown off an assist from Imig with 1:18 left before the intermission.
The Mustangs started the second half with an 8-0 scoring run and took the first double figure advantage of the game when Tyler Borchers made a free throw at the 19:24 mark of the second half to put the Mustangs up 46-36. Morningside led by 17 points, 53-36, when the run ended on a layup by Imig with 17:00 left in the game.
The Mustangs pushed their lead to 20 points when a Tyler Borchers tip-in made it 78-58 with 4:22 left and they eventually increased their lead to a game-high 22 points, 80-58, on a pair of free throws by Egger with 3:51 left.
Thirteenth-ranked Morningside defeated No. 20 Rio Grande 97-69 in Thursday night’s first round action of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship in Sioux City to win its opening round game for the 15th year in a row.
The Mustangs will take a 22-11 record into Friday’s second round, where they will play an 8:45 p.m. contest against the winner of a first round game between No. 4 Saint Xavier and Tabor.
Rio Grande, the East Division champion of the River States Conference (RSC) and RSC Post-Season Tournament champion, closed the books on a 30-4 season. The RedStorm fell to 0-7 all-time in NAIA National Tournament contests, while the four-time NAIA Division II National Champion Mustangs improved their all-time record in national tourney competition to sparkling 39-12.
Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Player of the Year Madison Braun used the national tournament stage to show case her abilities, pouring in a game-high 27 points to go along with a game-high seven steals. Braun led the Mustangs in scoring for the 15th time in their last 18 games. Braun, who was already at 20 points by the intermission, posted her 16th scoring performance of 20 points or more this season and raised her career total to 1956 points, good for fourth place on Morningside’s all-time scoring list. Braun, the NAIA II national leader in 3-point field goals, raised her season’s total to 126 treys to move within four 3-pointers of the Morningside record of 130 3-pointers by Kate Lokken in the Mustangs’ 2003-04 NAIA II National Championship season.
Three of Braun’s teammates joined her in double figures. Sydney Hupp, a second-team All-GPAC selection, was next with 15 points, followed by GPAC Freshman of the Year Sierra Mitchell with 14 points and fellow freshman Mady Maly with 13 tallies. Maly bombed in three of five 3-point field goal attempts en route to her team-high seventh double figure scoring performance off the bench. Rachelle Housh was next with seven points, followed by Jordyn Moser and Lauren Lehmkuhl with six each.
Housh led the Mustangs with eight rebounds, followed by Lehmkuhl with seven and Moser and Grace Meyer, each with six.
Braun made two early 3-point field goals and Mitchell also struck from 3-point distance to stake the Mustangs to an early 12-7 lead less than two minutes into the contest. The Mustangs led 14-9 before the RedStorm went on an 8-0 scoring run capped by a 3-pointer by Nia McCormick that put Rio Grande in front 17-14 with 3:08 left in the quarter. The RedStorm led by four points, 21-17, after a drive to the basket by Jaida Carter with 1:43 left in the quarter. Morningside scored five straight points to take a 22-21 lead late in the quarter before the RedStorm’s Kamryn Conaway made a basket at the horn to give Rio Grande a 23-22 lead at the quarter break.
The Mustangs scored first in the second quarter when a basket by Hupp put them in front 24-23 with 9:34 left in the second quarter. The Mustangs never trailed again after the Hupp basket. The Mustangs stretched their lead into double figures for the first time when a fast break layup by Mady Maly put them up 41-31 with 4:02 left before the intermission. Rio Grande cut its deficit in half and trailed 43-38 with 1:33 left in the quarter before a 3-pointer by Maly and a basket by Mitchell put the Mustangs back up by 10 points, 48-38, at the intermission.
The Mustangs put the RedStorm away when they outscored them 27-16 in the third quarter to open an insurmountable 75-54 advantage going into the final 10 minutes.
Morningside eventually increased its lead to a game-high 32 points, 96-64, on a basket by Erin Schleicher with 1:01 left to play.